Healthy coral reefs support commercial and subsistence fisheries as well as jobs and businesses through tourism and recreation. Approximately half of all federally managed fisheries depend on coral reefs and related habitats for a portion of their life cycles. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates the commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs is over $100 million.
Runoff from residential, industrial, and agricultural areas containing fertilizers, silt, chemicals, debris, and other contaminants are carried through storm drains to Florida's waterways. Sewage discharges from waste treatment facilities, boats, and developed land areas contribute to coral diseases and death. Even treated sewage contains high nutrient levels which trigger algal blooms that smother reefs, and may also contain bacteria and viruses which threaten the health of both the marine environment and humans. Pollution from people who live many miles from the coast can destroy corals as liquids and solids eventually make their way downstream to the ocean through our numerous inland canals and waterways, and through groundwater transport.